ASUU to expand childcare facility

By Rochelle McConkie

ASUU is enlarging its child-care program, allowing more students to study without worrying about changing diapers and crying infants.

The Associated Students of the University of Utah currently offers subsidized care to the parents of about 80 children each day at a facility in the Alfred Emery Building. Students can drop off children at any time during the day to meet their schedules.

Construction to double the size of the child-care location, expanding it into two additional classrooms, will begin in May. The renovated center will be open for Fall Semester.

Repairs will also be made to make the center more age-appropriate for children ages 3 to 5 years old. Jackie Kemp, program director of the ASUU child-care center, said there is an extensive waiting list for toddlers.

“All university child-care programs are very full for that age group,” Kemp said. Expansion of the center would increase the number of infants and toddlers it can accommodate, escalating the program’s capacity to support an additional 60 children daily.

Kemp said she hopes to raise awareness of the programs available for nontraditional students. “We are here for them,” she said.

Federal grants and money from the ASUU child-care reserve will pay for the construction. Currently, ASUU is petitioning a committee that distributes campus funds for $100,000 to renovate the playground outside the child-care center.

“ASUU will continue to subsidize child care and is working with administration to lobby for its importance,” said Student Body Vice President Toby Collett. “It really meets the needs for a large demographic of students-child care can be the only way for some to finish school and reach graduation.”

About 40 percent of the U’s student population is made up of nontraditional students.

With ASUU subsidization, students can put their children in care for between $1 and $5 per hour per child, depending on the needs and situation of the parents.

The student government also offers child-care scholarships. More than 30 scholarships have been given out this year, totaling about $6,000. This money comes from interest accrued from student fees.

Forward Party candidates for the upcoming ASUU elections want to expand the number of child-care scholarships available to students. Brittany Bell, candidate for senior class president, said that although ASUU subsidizes the costs now, “those hours add up.”

Bell said that University of Utah President Michael K. Young is advocating child-care programs to reduce the trend of decreasing female attendance at the U. By increasing child-care centers, Forward Party candidates hope to increase female attendance.

Making child care one of its four campaign promises, the More 4 U Party plans to expand the child-care center’s playground, create more date nights with free child care and give child-care facilities later hours. Party members said that with later hours, parents could work during the day and study at night or vice versa.

More 4 U presidential candidate Joe Coccimiglio said he wants to bring date nights to married student housing. “We want to bring ASUU down to (University Village),” Coccimiglio said.

Both FUSE and Activate candidates support the child-care expansion made by the current ASUU administration. “I think Jake (Kirkham) and Toby (Collett) have done a great job,” said Activate presidential candidate Cameron Beech.

Beech said he wants to offer child care for ASUU events such as homecoming so that married students can participate in campus activities just like other students.

FUSE Party presidential candidate Spencer Pearson said he wants to continue to work with and fund the child-care center.

“Even now, the demand still exceeds the capacity,” Pearson said.

Kim Peterson

Monica Jensen, junior in sociology, plays “I Spy” with 3-year-old Saphira in the ASUU childcare center yesterday in the Alfred Emory Building yesterday.

Kim Peterson

Shin Euhna, senior in linguistics, plays with 2-year-old Caleb in the ASUU childcare center yesterday in the Alfred Emory Building.